This Asparagus Risotto recipe is a delicious celebration of spring! It is vibrant, lemony, and creamy, made with fresh asparagus, lemon, leeks, and basil. Video.

Asparagus Risotto in a bowl with a spoon.

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James Hollis

Oh, hello, new favorite vegetarian dinner! Last weekend, we made this Asparagus Risotto for Easter and topped it with mushrooms, and then last night, we had it again, just on its own- both were delicious!

Leeks, basil, and lemon give this Asparagus Risotto its flavor here, and we make it “creamy” by blending up some of the asparagus and basil into a puree that is folded in into risotto before serving— giving it a burst of color and flavor.

Why You’ll Love This!

  1. Fresh spring flavor (and color)! Leeks, asparagus, and basil give this dish vibrant spring flavor and brilliant green color.
  2. Deliciously creamy and satisfying. An indulgent, rich creamy texture.
  3. Very adaptable. Serve as a vegetarian dinner, or top with fish, seafood, or mushrooms. Vegan and gluten-free adaptable.
Asparagus risotto ingredients: asparagus. arborio rice, lemon basil olive oil and veggie broth.

Asparagus Risotto Ingredients

  • Asparagus bunch: You’ll need just under a pound. Look for fresh tips, and if size is an option, smaller spears work best here.
  • Arborio rice: An Italian short-grain rice that is a must for making creamy risotto!
  • Garlic and Leek: Add savory flavor and depth.
  • Extra Virgin Olive oil: for added richness.
  • Dry white wine: Optional, but adds acidity and is great for deglazing the pan.
  • Vegetable Broth: Store-bought or make your own. Feel free to sub chicken broth.
  • Fresh Herbs: Basil, or sub fresh flat leaf parsley or dill.
  • Fresh Lemon: Both lemon zest and lemon juice for zesty flavor!
  • Garnish: Lemon zest, basil ribbons, pecorino or parmesan cheese, toasted pine nuts (or other nuts or seeds), chili flakes for a little bite (Urfa biber is nice), leek oil, or a drizzle of olive oil.

Asparagus Risotto Instructions

Step 1: Prep the asparagus. Bring a small saucepan of water to boil. Cut the fibrous ends off the asparagus spears and discard. (You can tell where this is by breaking an end off with your fingers.) Cut pretty tips off (about 1 1/2 inches) and set these aside.

trimmed asparagus tips cut off.

Cut the “middles” into 1-inch pieces. Take 1 1/2 cups of “middles” and set aside for blanching. Add any remaining middles to the pile with pretty tips.

asparagus middles cut into 1-inch pieces.

Step 2: Blanch and blend. Blanch 1 1/2 cups of asparagus “middles” in a pot of boiling salted water until tender and vibrant, about 3-5 minutes, depending on their size. Drain, reserving 1 cup of cooking liquid.

blanch the cut asparagus in a pot of water.

Step 3. Make the asparagus pureethe key to the vibrant color! Blend the blanched asparagus with the cooking liquid, olive oil, and basil leaves until silky smooth, using an immersion blender or high speed blender. Set this asparagus puree aside. You’ll add this to the risotto at the very end.

immersion blender in pot making creamy asparagus basil sauce.

Step 4: Make the risotto (do this at the same time as the puree). Slice leeks into thin half-moons and rinse away any dirt using a strainer. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium. Add leeks, sautéing until soft, 5-6 minutes. Add garlic and cook 2 minutes until fragrant.

pot with leeks and arborio rice, stirring with wooden spoon.

Step 5: Add rice. Add arborio rice and stir one minute. Deglaze with white wine (if using) and cook the wine off. Add 1 cup of hot broth (a ladle works great for this), scraping up browned bits. Bring to simmer over medium-low, stirring occasionally. Let the rice absorb all of the broth.

a cup of hot veggie broth added to pot of leeks and arborio rice.

Step 6: Continue adding broth. Add 1 cup of hot broth at a time, letting the rice absorb it slowly each time. Stir often. When you add the last cup of broth, add the pile of asparagus tips, letting them cook for 3 minutes. Rice should be creamy, yet slightly al dente.

making asparagus risotto in large pot, stirring fresh asparagus into pot.

Step 7: Add the puree. Stir in blended asparagus “puree,” along with salt, pepper, and a squeeze of lemon juice.

pouring in green basil asparagus sauce to pot of risotto.

Step 8. Taste and adjust. Add pecorino here if desired for more depth of flavor. Heat gently over low to thicken if you like, but be careful not to cook too long or you’ll lose that vibrant color.

squeezing fresh lemon juice into pot of asparagus risotto.

Serve! Serve in bowls with pecorino cheese, lemon zest, and chili flakes, or a drizzle of optional leek oil. Garnish with fresh herbs like basil and parsley.

asparagus risotto served with basil, pine nuts, mushrooms, and lemon zest.

Serving suggestions

FAQs

Can I make Asparagus Risotto in an Instant Pot?

Yes, you can make asparagus risotto in an Instant Pot, reducing the stock to two cups. Blanch the asparagus separately on the stove, make the creamy sauce, adding both to the instant pot AFTER pressure cooking.

Can Asparagus Risotto be made vegan?

Yes, you could easily keep Asparagus Risotto vegan, leaving out the cheese, or subbing a vegan cheese. Drizzle with a little olive oil or make the leek oil!

What is arborio rice?

A high-starch, short-grain rice used for risotto. There are not too many substitutes that can replace the rice in the recipe! Calrose rice can be subbed.

Health Benefits of Asparagus

As one of the quintessential vegetables of spring, asparagus is not only delicious but also packed with health benefits!

  1. Rich in nutrients: Asparagus is a nutrient-dense food that is high in several important vitamins and minerals. It is an excellent source of fiber, folate, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, and vitamin K, calcium, as well as chromium.
  2. Antioxidant properties: The vibrant green spears contain a variety of antioxidant compounds such as glutathione, flavonoids, and polyphenols. These antioxidants help neutralize cell-damaging free radicals, which plays a role in aging and many diseases.
  3. Heart health: Asparagus is particularly rich in folate, a B vitamin that can help regulate the level of the amino acid homocysteine in the blood. High levels of homocysteine are associated with an increased risk of heart disease.
  4. Digestive health: Thanks to its high fiber content, asparagus promotes good digestive health. Fiber also provides nourishment for beneficial gut bacteria, which may boost your immune system.
  5. Great for pregnancy: Folate is essential for women who are planning on getting pregnant or who are currently pregnant because it can help protect against neural tube defects in the fetus. Asparagus provides a good source of folate for expectant mothers.
  6. Potential anti-cancer properties: Asparagus, like many other vegetables, contains high levels of antioxidants which may help lower the risk of certain forms of cancer. The glutathione found in asparagus is particularly noteworthy for its potential cancer-fighting properties.
asparagus risotto in a bowl.

Next time you’re at the market, grab a bunch of asparagus and savor its flavor as well as its boost to your health!

Hope you enjoy the Asparagus Risotto recipe! Let us know what you think in the comments, and don’t forget to rate the recipe.

xoxo

Sylvia

More Favorite spring Recipes

Asparagus Risotto video

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Lemony Asparagus Risotto with leeks and basil-light and creamy with vibrant color and flavor, perfect for spring! A tasty vegetarian meal, or beautiful base for fish, seafood or mushrooms! #asparagus #risotto #springrecipes

Asparagus Risotto Recipe

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 4.9 from 41 reviews
  • Author: Sylvia Fountaine | Feasting at Home
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 30
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: vegetarian, main,
  • Method: stove top
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

This Asparagus Risotto recipe is a delicious celebration of spring! It is vibrant, lemony, and creamy, made with fresh asparagus, lemon, leeks, and basil.


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 1 large leek (or white onion, diced)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 4 garlic cloves, rough chopped
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 1/4 cup white wine, optional- or skip it
  • 3 1/24 cups hot vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves (or sub flat leaf parsley)
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • Optional Garnish: lemon zest, basil ribbons, pecorino cheese, optional toasted pinenuts (or other nuts or seeds), chili flakes (Urfa biber is nice) Leek oil (optional) or a drizzle of olive oil.

Instructions

Read the directions all the way through so you get a general idea of things here. 🙂

  1. Bring a small pot of salted water to boil on the stove to blanch asparagus.
  2. Prep the asparagus: Cut the fibrous ends off the asparagus and discard. (You can tell where this is by breaking an end off with your fingers, usually about an inch from bottom- and using this as a guide, cut the rest to match. Toss all the fibrous ends.)  Cut the pretty tips off (about 1 1/2 inches) and set them aside.  Cut the “middles” into 1-inch pieces. Take 1 1/2 cups of the “middles” and set aside (to blanch and blend into a creamy asparagus sauce) which we will stir into the risotto at the end to give it it’s beautiful vibrant color and creamy texture. Add any remaining “middles” to the tips pile and keep these set-aside. So you’ll have two piles of asparagus,  1 1/2 cups of the “middles”  and one with the tips and leftover middles. Ha!
  3. Make the asparagus puree: In the small pot of boiling water, blanch the 1 1/2 cups of asparagus “middles” (without the tips) until tender and vibrant, about 5 minutes, depending on size. Drain, and reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid.  Place both in the blender.  Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and basil leaves and blend until silky smooth. (Alternatively, use an immersion blender.) Set this aside to add to the risotto at the end.
  4. Start Risotto: Thinly slice leeks into half-moons, and rinsing away any dirt, strain. (Rinsing will also help prevent them form scorching.) Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a pot or dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add leeks and garlic and saute until softened and fragrant.
  5. Add arborio rice and stir to coat, one minute. Deglaze with white wine (if using) and cook the wine  off. Add 1 cup hot veggie broth, scraping up any browned bits, bring to a gentle simmer, over med-low heat stirring occasionally, letting the rice absorb the all the broth. 
  6. Continue adding the hot broth 1 cup at a time, letting the rice absorb it slowly, each time, stirring often. ***At the same time that you add the last cup of broth, add the fresh asparagus tips, letting them cook in the risotto 3 minutes or so. At this point, rice should be creamy yet slightly al dente.
  7. Combine: Stir in blended asparagus “puree”, add the salt, pepper, a squeeze of lemon juice and taste.  Adjust salt, pepper and lemon to taste. (Pecorino will add more depth and flavor here.)  Heat gently over low heat letting it thicken a bit if you like, but taking care not to cook too long here, or you’ll lose the vibrant color.
  8. Divide among bowls, garnish with pecorino cheese, lemon zest and chili flakes or a drizzle of the optional leek oil.

Notes

To make this go faster, start the risotto and asparagus blanching at the same time- great for multitaskers! 😉

If you’d like to add a protein, add 1 cup peas or edamame to the risotto, or top the risotto with fish or seafood- scallops, shrimp, salmon, chicken or halibut, etc.

Sauteed mushrooms are nice here too, along with a drizzle of truffle oil. ;). Photos include Maitake Mushrooms.

Feel free to add toasted nuts or seeds.

Yes, you can make asparagus risotto in an Instant Pot, reducing the stock to two cups. Blanch the asparagus separately on the stove, make the creamy sauce, adding both to the instant pot AFTER pressure cooking.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 2/3 cups with 1 tablespoon Romano cheese
  • Calories: 357
  • Sugar: 7.2 g
  • Sodium: 1268.9 mg
  • Fat: 21.7 g
  • Saturated Fat: 4.4 g
  • Carbohydrates: 35.5 g
  • Fiber: 3.8 g
  • Protein: 8.4 g
  • Cholesterol: 9.8 mg

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Comments

  1. This was my first time making risotto, and thanks to all the well written instructions, it came out great! Even my friend whose a risotto connoisseur loved it👌

  2. We loved this risotto, came out perfect as is. The lemon zest and juice were a perfect addition so was the cheese. I think next time I will make it 1/2 cup of white wine just because I love adding wine. Served it with pork and vegetables steamed dumplings.






    1. Lucky you, Kim! I think it would freeze well taste and texture-wise, but wondering if it would lose its vibrant color? Not sure here….

  3. I am Italian and I needed a recipe that was Italian enough to be familiar to my Italian guests, yet different e ought to impress them. This didn’t disappoint! Raved by everyone. The leek oil was genius!






    1. Hi Katherine. I would make the asparagus puree ahead of time and refrigerate it. Par cook the risotto before guests arrive (cook it halfway). Then finish it up right before serving- add the puree.

  4. Made this tonight with fresh garden asparagus, forged oyster and morel mushrooms and frozen basil from last summer’s garden harvest. Divine flavor and texture. Made it in the Instant Pot- so it was quick too!

  5. Any suggestions if you don’t have arborio rice? Would brown rice work or Farro? Thank you so much.

    1. I suppose you could try, but it would not get the creamy texture that the starch form Arborio rice gives off.

  6. Fabulous! Made it with asparagus fresh out of our garden and homemade organic chicken broth, Topped each serving with 3 sea scallops which had been sautéed with garlic and lemon. A hit!






  7. I absolutely adore this recipe! It is DELICIOUS! I topped it with sea bass prepared in a cast iron skillet on the stove, and finished it in the oven. Will be making this recipe over and over again!






  8. I’m quite sure my eyes rolled back into my head when I first took a bite of this risotto. All of the flavors really came together at the end with the addition of the squeeze of lemon, lemon zest, s/ p and shredded Parmesan in my case. Divine!






    1. Ahahaha! I love the vision I have of you. 🙂 Glad you enjoyed it Molly. A fun one for sure. 🙂

  9. Delicious recipe! A bit time consuming, and I always find I need more broth, but it’s worth it!






  10. This is the 3rd or 4th time I’ve made this and it’s always refreshing, flavorful and delicious. I do reduce the liquid to about 3/4 c. for the asparagus liquid and 3 c. for the veggie broth.

    1. I also found the liquid too much so added some frozen peas to thicken and used half. It was absolutely delicious. Fried some morel mushrooms in garlic for top.

  11. I love love love this recipe! Thank you for yet another 5 star dinner! I just love the Maitake mushrooms as a topper!
    Before this recipe I have never heard of them, and now I cook with them regularly.






  12. This is a lovely, lovely recipe. I added a good amount of parmesan (as I didn’t have pecorino) and served with a simple roasted salmon. Delightful!






  13. This was amazing! I added green peas after incorporating the asparagus and excluded the mushrooms as I was serving with seared scallops. The addition of the lemon zest really elevates the basil sauce so I suggest others don’t leave it out. Definitely restaurant quality. Thanks for sharing!






  14. Delicious and great presentation. I added peas and prawns to make it dinner for the family. Came together quicker than I expected!






  15. Your butternut squash leek risotto was already one of my very favorite recipes, but this one might top it. The brightness of the asparagus and lemon are perfect balance to the heaviness of the arborio rice. I’ll definitely be moving this one into rotation.






  16. Made this tonight and wow! It’s fantastic! The asparagus puree was unexpected and a fabulous new way to make risotto. I may or may not have added a knob off butter at the end 🙂






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